Snake in state’s custody after being run over by vehicle near old Hilo airport

  • This ball python is in the state's custody after being found in Hilo.

A live ball python is being safeguarded by the state Department of Agriculture in Hilo after it was run over by a vehicle Thursday night on a side road near Old Airport Road, according to the DOA.

A woman reported that she was driving along the road with her grandson at about 8:45 p.m. when she ran over the snake.

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Her grandson picked up the snake, thinking it was dead, and put it in a cardboard box. They then called Hawaii County police, who immediately notified the DOA. However, when an DOA inspector arrived to retrieve the snake, it was still alive.

The snake is tan and brown in color, measures about 3 feet long and weighs about 2 pounds. The current condition of the snake appears to be good, the DOA said.

Snakes are illegal to transport and possess in Hawaii. It is not known how the snake may have gotten to the heavily forested area near the old airport. Agricultural inspectors are conducting a search of the area and will be deploying traps to help ensure that no other snakes are in the area.

In June 2018, a 4 ½ foot long ball python was found at the Hilo landfill by county workers. The origin of that snake is still unknown.

“We do not encourage people to handle snakes that they may find because the species and condition of the snake may not be easily determined,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “If possible, they should try to contain it and prevent its escape and contact the state’s toll-free pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378) or the police department.”

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Ball pythons are common in the pet trade and are native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are constrictors that subdue prey by coiling around it, causing death by suffocation. Their diet usually consists of small mammals and birds. Ball pythons may grow up to 6 feet long.

Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes may also be a threat to humans and small pets, the DOA said.

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